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How to React When Emotions Run High at Work


People like to keep their emotions and the workplace far away from each other, but emotional outbursts at work are inevitable. Stressful periods, when trying to win over new clients, when the company’s finances are at risk, or any other changes in the company can stir up emotions in employees. However, it’s how you react after your outburst that really counts.

According to Anne Kreamer, author of “It’s Always Personal: Managing Emotion in the New Workplace,” companies that show empathy for their employees are the ones that will actually thrive.

“She says that workplace cultures that emphasize empathy and enthusiasm reap benefits ranging from greater creativity to reduced absenteeism,” writes Gwen Moran of Entrepreneur. “Being empathetic to emotion and showing your humanity is part [of] such a culture.”

There are three types of outbursts that Kreamer points out in her book — anger, crying and laughing.

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Everyone gets angry, but how is your anger affecting your employees? If you are constantly showing anger toward your team, you could be hindering their motivation and overall engagement. If you do have an outburst, make sure to always apologize for your behaviour. On the flip side, if your anger is not towards a person but toward a situation, it can actually help spark a fire in your team.

“If you miss closing a deal, approach it as ‘We’re going to show them and go out there and get the next contract.’ It can be a motivating force,” Kreamer says.

Tears, while often thought of as a sign of weakness, don’t actually affect a person’s success in the long run. However, it is interesting to note that women tend to judge other women for crying at work, much more so than men do. In the general sense, shedding a few tears out of frustration or bad news is more accepting than people previously thought. This does not mean, however, that it should happen regularly. But showing your emotions in certain situations is perfectly okay.

Once in awhile, we laugh for no reason at all. Whether the stress has gotten to us or a situation just requires a fit of giggles, laughing can actually help tighten the bond of your team. That said, make sure it doesn’t seem as though you are laughing at a specific employee or client.

Have you ever had an emotional outburst at work?

More From PayScale

Emotion in the Workplace
Emotional Intelligence in the Business Workplace
5 Ways to Manage Your Emotions and Avoid Venting at Work


(Photo credit: Victor1558/Flickr)

Marissa Brassfield
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